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VISAS

Digital nomads: Who can work remotely in Austria?

The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work opportunities, but being a digital nomad is still a legal grey area in some countries. Here’s how it works in Austria.

Digital nomads: Who can work remotely in Austria?
What are the rules for digital nomads in Austria? (Photo by Canva Studio / Pexels).

Travelling the world as a digital nomad is a dream come true for many and Austria is a prime location for those that want to explore the mountains or spend time in historic Vienna. 

But the lifestyle of a digital nomad is not always as free as people expect – especially when it comes to visas, taxes and health insurance.

Here’s what you need to know about working remotely in Austria.

READ MORE: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

Does Austria have a digital nomad visa?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries have jumped on the remote work bandwagon and are offering eligible people a digital nomad visa for a set amount of time (usually one year or more).

Unfortunately, Austria is not one of those countries.

But that doesn’t mean Austria is completely out of bounds. Instead it just means knowing the different immigration rules for EU and non-EU citizens when it comes to spending time in the Alpine Republic.

What are the rules for EU citizens?

Citizens of EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries can stay in Austria for up to three months (90 days) without having to register as a resident.

For stays of more than three months, you have to be employed, self-employed, a student at a recognised educational institution or have enough money to support yourself financially.

In theory, this means someone from France or Italy can relocate to Austria for several months (or years) to live and work – as long as they follow the rules related to proof of residence, health insurance and tax.

For example, anyone that wants to live in Austria for more than three months is required to officially register their address. This is known as the Meldebestätigung (proof of residence) and is required to get the official registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung).

READ MORE: Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document

Then there is health insurance, which is compulsory for all legal residents in Austria. 

If you work for an employer, this is organised automatically through the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK). For those that are self-employed, health insurance is provided through the Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Selbständigen (SVS).

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) does provide some cover but not all medical visits, so self-supporting people in Austria have to find private health insurance to ensure they won’t be a burden on the Austrian medical system.

Taxes should also be considered by any EU citizens thinking about relocating to Austria to work remotely as this is where it can get complicated without a dedicated digital nomad visa.

In Austria, you will be considered a tax resident if you spend more than 180 days per year in the country.

Depending on the rules of your country of residence, this could impact where you are liable to pay tax on income and is something to keep in mind when planning to relocate to Austria on a temporary basis.

What are the rules for non-EU citizens?

Like EU and EEA citizens, some third-country nationals can stay in Austria for up to 90 days out of every 180 days as a tourist. These countries include the US and the UK.

The 90-day rule applies to the entire Schengen Area though, so if you spend 90 days in Austria you can’t then jump over the border to spend another 90 days in Germany. Instead, you will have to leave the Schengen Area if you do not have a valid visa.

FOR MEMBERS: Austria vs Germany: Which country is better to move to?

For people that want to stay in Austria for longer than 90 days there is the option to apply for Visa D, which allows third-country nationals to stay in the country for up to six months as a visitor (or up to 12 months in exceptional circumstances). This visa has to be applied for in your country of residence before arriving in Austria.

However, as there is not a dedicated digital nomad visa in Austria (as already mentioned above), working in Austria remotely as a third-country national with a tourist visa or Visa D is not legal.

Instead, a long-term visa option is to apply for a self employed key worker visa. This immigration route is essentially an investor visa and involves a minimum investment of €100,000 into a business, the creation of new jobs and proof that the business will have an impact on the region.

For most digital nomads, this is financially out of reach and not in keeping with the digital nomad lifestyle.

So for most non-EU citizens, it is possible to stay in Austria for up to six months as a tourist. But for anything longer – or to work legally in Austria – it means giving up the digital nomad lifestyle and committing to living in Austria on a more permanent basis.

This article was updated on May 9th 2022 to clarify that working remotely while in Austria as a tourist is not legal.

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WEATHER

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.

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